What is the Snowden Effect? It is the increase in public awareness and concern over the collection and use of electronic data by the US Government – without even getting warrants – since the revelations of Edward Snowden. Even though – obviously – electronic data did not exist when the U.S. Constitution was written, the Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits “Unreasonable search and seizure.”
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? My electronic data certainly qualifies as an “effect” (as in “Personal effects”), and vacuuming up data en masse certainly qualifies as “unreasonable.” This isn’t even “Rounding up the usual suspects,” which implies known criminals; This is “Round up everybody and let’s see what we can pin on them!”
Now, you might consider Edward Snowden a hero, a traitor, a patriot, or a dissident, but the important fact is that this is a discussion that needs to happen, and Snowden forced the issue. This Country is not a dictatorship, it is (allegedly) a government of, by, and for the People, and as such, the Government is accountable to the people and has no right to spy on them without probable cause.
A lot of the current chatter is about digital encryption. The terrorists that shot up San Bernardino last December had an encrypted iPhone, and Apple, the manufacturer of the iPhone, has made the encryption so good that even they can’t break it. The FBI wants Apple to write an Operating System with a “Back Door,” that would allow anyone with the master password to unlock the system. They say this is a one-time deal… but think about it. If someone developed a Master Key to your front door – allegedly for the Police to use in a life-threatening emergency – how long do you think it would be before that master key leaked out? Let’s get real here! The only true secrets are the ones only you have a key to! Especially considering how many Government secrets have been stolen recently!
If you were a manufacturer of vaults, how would you feel if an agency asked you to provide a master key to your burglar-proof vault? How would you know you could trust them to keep that key safe, not only today, but forever?
Many developers of encryption software are already being leaned on to provide just such back doors. To their credit, some have refused. Some have even gone out of business rather than compromise their customer’s information. Though I’m not an Apple user, kudos to them for holding the line.
We need to pay attention to this stuff; our privacy and security is at risk. If the Government knows everything about you, they can do anything to you.
For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!
I’d love to hear your comments!